U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- The Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the US. Supreme Court in a challenge of Maryland’s ban on modern semiautomatic rifles.
Joining both gun rights organizations in the case are the Firearms Policy Coalition, Field Traders, LLC and three private citizens: Micah Schaefer, David Snope and Dominic Bianchi, for whom the case is named. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson and John D. Ohlendorf with Cooper & Kirk, PLLC in Washington, D.C., Raymond M. DiGuiseppe at the DiGuiseppe Law Firm, P.C. in Southport, N.C., and Adam Kraut, FPC in Sacramento, Calif.
The case is known as Bianchi v. Frosh. The 39-page brief may be read here. This is a rare event for the Citizens Committee because it normally stays out of the legal arena. SAF is its sister organization, and it specializes in gun rights litigation.
As explained by Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, “We are pursuing this case because it is long past time for the Supreme Court to put an end to the legal gymnastics that have been used to uphold what amounts to an unconstitutional prohibition of semiautomatic firearms.”
If the high court takes this case for review, it could cause a legal earthquake in states that have adopted strict—some say “extremist”—regulations regarding semi-auto rifles.
That might be especially true for Washington State, which three years ago passed a citizen initiative that actually contained a definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that infuriated gun owners in the state and was even panned by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who repeatedly told reporters there is “no such thing” as a “semiautomatic assault rifle.”
As defined by Initiative 1639, “’ Semiautomatic assault rifle’ means any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.”
The definition applies to all self-loading rifles, regardless of caliber.
Gottlieb, who also chairs the Citizens Committee, noted in a prepared statement, “Lower courts have perpetuated such bans based on whatever logic they can conjure up to justify their decisions. The Second Amendment is not going to disappear, and questions about what arms are protected need to be answered. You cannot allow guns to be banned based on cosmetics or what color they are.”
The SAF/CCRKBA brief pulls no punches. Eight pages in, it notes bluntly, “Maryland dubs a semiautomatic firearm that possesses one of the prohibited features an ‘assault weapon,’ but that is nothing more than argument advanced by a political slogan in the guise of a definition. As even anti-gun partisans have admitted, ‘assault weapon’ is a political term designed to exploit ‘the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons.’”
In 1988, the Violence Policy Center acknowledged, “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.”
But the SAF/CCRKBA brief observes, “In truth, the odd assortment of firearms Maryland calls “assault weapons’ are mechanically identical to any other semiautomatic firearm—arms that, as no one disputes, are exceedingly common and fully protected by the Second Amendment.”
“These firearms are in common use,” the petition brief contends. “They are legal in 44 States and they ‘traditionally have been widely accepted as lawful possessions.’”
But banning this class of firearm is what many people consider “trophy legislation” by the gun prohibition lobby. If they can ban one entire class of guns, it may become publicly acceptable to push for another ban, or at least prohibitive regulations that discourage average citizens from wanting to own any such firearm.
“The rifles banned by Maryland,” the plaintiffs’ petition adds a few pages later, “are commonly and overwhelmingly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. In a 2013 survey of 21,942 confirmed owners of such firearms, home-defense followed (closely) only recreational target shooting as the most important reason for owning these firearms.”
But the Maryland law, SAF/CCRKBA and their partners argue, “singles out for special disfavor not a recognized type of firearm, but certain features included on some firearms. That makes Maryland’s law particularly irrational, since most of the features it bans actually serve to make the firearms on which they are included safer.”
With one Second Amendment case already before the court—arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen were heard last month and a ruling is expected in late June 2022—gun rights groups are crossing their fingers that the justices have finally felt it is time to take on more than one gun rights issue.
As Gottlieb is fond of saying, it could advance the cause of “winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”
About Dave Workman